The Yolo County Agricultural Bureau won its lawsuit filed against Woodland last year arguing that the city’s flood risk management project violated Measure S – a campaign initiative passed in 2004 in response to an attempted of the city to build a flood barrier that would increase flooding in North Woods.
“The city is disappointed and disagrees with the court’s decision on the Forest Flood Risk Management Project,” a city press release said. “The city has gone to great lengths to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Water Resources, California Central Valley Flood Protection Board and a broad group of community stakeholders to design a project that complies with the restrictions contained to the extent S while providing much needed flood protection to the region.
In February 2021, the city decided to move forward with its flood risk management project which would include the construction of a levee or series of earthen barriers that would begin west of the County Road 98, would head north near County Road 16 to Carter Lane, then follow east to Churchill Downs Avenue and County Road 102 before heading south on the County Road 22, just north of Interstate-5.
The seawall can be between 6 and 14 feet high depending on the area, and the CR-98 and CR-99 can be raised where they intersect. There would also be a number of drainage channels in the areas of CR-98, CR-99, CR-101, CR-102, Highway 113, and under I-5.
The Farm Bureau, along with former presidents Nancy Lea and Eric Paulen, alleged that the city’s February 2021 decision to go ahead with the project would allow floodwaters to bypass northern Woodland and go to the Cache Creek settling pond.
Measure S, which passed with 62.8% of the vote, encouraged a plan for “regional flood control” in the form of a setback levee system that “would not only protect the town of Woodland but also the area north of Woodland and the area north of Cache Creek,” the lawsuit said.
The city argued in its press release that it had successfully designed a project that complied with Measure S restrictions. However, the lawsuit attached a letter from Schaaf and Wheeler, a civil engineering firm, which stated that the plan was substantially similar to the 2003 draft on which the S measure was based.
“A substantially similar project does not mean an identical project,” the letter stresses. “Variations in the project footprint, barrier height, specific barrier alignment, auxiliary barrier characteristics, areas away from regulatory flood zones, and what may appear to be significant differences in project design or scope is not necessarily indicative of a material difference in project function or impact. ”
The city argued that its goals for the project were to increase public safety, meet state and federal requirements for urban flood protection, reduce the cost of flood insurance, and facilitate the economic stability by allowing responsible and intelligent development.
“The project has both local and regional benefits,” the statement said. “It includes new levee and seepage berms, installation of cut-off walls in existing levees and construction of drainage channels, among other features.”
Additionally, he argued that the project included additional flood risk reduction measures for properties and structures north of the city.
“The project intends to remove more than a thousand Woodland properties from special flood zones, eliminating high-cost federal flood insurance mandates and restrictions on property improvements,” the statement said.